Chris Les.

Chris Les.

Chris Les: Taking care of business

Chilliwack's Chris Les, 29, as featured in The Chilliwack Progress Forty Under 40.

Chris Les admits he got a few “sideways looks” when he made the decision to join Fraser Valley Meats.

At the time, Les was working in personal and commercial finances for a local bank. He had been there just a couple of years after completing the four-year business administration program at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Business was his passion, and the experience fortified his education. But he wasn’t sure the banking industry was the right fit for him.

Banks like mobility, he says, and he and his new wife, Carina (whom he had married while the two were still students at UFV) weren’t eager to leave Chilliwack.

When an opportunity in sales became available at Fraser Valley Meats he made the move.

“I went from commercial finance, to selling meat,” he says with a smile.

It’s a move he’s never regretted.

Fraser Valley Meats have been around for more than 40 years. In addition to its retail outlets, the company also has a large wholesale division, which recently changed its name to Meadow Valley Meats to reflect its expansion outside the valley.

Les learned as much as he could while in the sales department. Then, after two years, he was approached by the company’s general manager (who was looking to step away from the business) and asked if he would be interested in the position.

Les agreed, and at 29 is now general manager of Meadow Valley Meats and the retail Fraser Valley Meats.

The learning curve has been steep, he admits. But he remains a student of business, and this career path has afforded him the ability to explore all aspects of his craft.

“I don’t think you can ask for a better place to learn business,” he says. “I’m trying to soak up everything I can.”

Les doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the support he’s had getting to where he is and the people who have shown confidence in him.

“This company is full of great people who all know more about meat than I’ll ever know,” he says. “I rely on them, and lean on them for that knowledge.”

He is also grateful for the understanding and support from his family. “My family is something very important to me.”

Finding the right balance between business and family (and his other passion, sports) can be a challenge. But getting the mix right – without sacrificing one for the other – is key to leading a full and successful life, he says.